Eastern Hemisphere

This gallery shows photos from over 50 coastal cities that encircle the Eastern Hemisphere – from Saint Petersburg, Russia to Tokyo, Japan. Enjoy the visual journey!

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1 Grand Cascade at Peterhof Palace near Saint Petersburg, Russia

Grand Cascade at Peterhof Palace is among the world’s most famous and opulent water fountains. This architectural masterpiece was first activated in 1721 and inaugurated in 1723. Water flows down two sets of seven staircases decorated with gilded sculptures. The nine vertical sprays of the Basket Fountain on the right partially conceal the Large Grotto. This houses the fountain’s ingenious hydraulic system and pipes. Next to it are the arches of the Small or Lower Grotto. This was an entertainment chamber for Peter the Great.

Razvodnaya Ulitsa, 2, Petergof, Sankt-Peterburg, 198516, Russia
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2 Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki, Finland

High on a hill in the Katajanokka neighborhood of Helsinki is the stunning Uspenski Cathedral. This Byzantine-Russian church was built in 1868 using bricks from the Bomarsund Fortress after it was destroyed during the Crimean War. The church’s best architectural feature is a dozen gilded onion domes representing the Apostles. They surround the larger central dome symbolizing Christ. Uspenskin Katedraali was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is Western Europe’s largest Orthodox church and is the seat of the Archdiocese of Helsinki.

Kanavakatu 1, 00160 Helsinki, Finland
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3 Gilded Crown on Skeppsholm Bridge in Stockholm, Sweden

This gilded crown sits on the railing of a wrought iron bridge called Skeppsholmsbron. Built in 1861, the Skeppsholm Bridge connects the Blasieholmen peninsula with the Skeppsholmen islet. Once a naval base, the island has been transformed into parks and a cultural center for museums. In the background is the channel called Ladugårds-landsviken and the buildings along Stranvågen Boulevard.

Skeppsholmsbron 111 48 Stockholm, Sweden
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4 Couple Stroll Barefoot on Beach in Warnemünde, Germany

Technically, this town of 8,500 people in northern Germany is called Warnemünde Seaside Resort. That is more than a moniker written for marketing brochures. The Badestrand or bathing beach has a width of nearly 500 feet that stretches for almost two miles along the Baltic coastline. So take off your shoes. Then let your toes enjoy the white sand and warm surf while you stroll along the beach with your partner. What a perfect way to spend a perfect afternoon.

Seepromenade 3, 18119 Rostock, Germany
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5 Gable Houses at Neuer Markt in Rostock, Germany

These six gabled houses – Neuer Markt 11 through 16 – were constructed from the Middle Ages through the 19th century. They were rebuilt after being heavily damaged during WWII. The most interesting building along the New Market is Rats Apotheke at Neuer Markt 13. This Town Hall Pharmacy originated in 1260. Back then, the Neuer Markt was also the location of a pillory. Its wooden frame secured a criminal’s head and hands during public humiliation.

Neuer Markt 12, 18055 Rostock, Germany
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6 Børsen Entrance Ramp in Copenhagen, Denmark

In the early 17th century, King Christian IV had a vision to develop a grand district called Christianshaven. The plans called for building the Børsen. It was Denmark’s stock exchange until 1974. In addition, the grand hall on the first floor housed about 50 merchant booths. Can you imagine going to market in this magnificent Dutch Renaissance landmark?

Børsgade 2 1215 København K, Denmark
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7 Malmöhus Castle in Malmö, Sweden

Malmö’s first castle was built in 1434. In 1537, King Christian III of Denmark constructed this Renaissance fortress called Malmöhus. The citadel served Danish kings until Sweden’s independence in 1658. Then, it became a defense against the Danes. From 1828 to 1909 it was a prison. Since 1937, Malmöhus has been the home of the Malmö Museum except for a short period in 1945 when it sheltered survivors of German concentration camps. The museum has a collection of art, city history, natural history and maritime exhibits.

Malmöhusvägen 6, 211 18 Malmö, Sweden
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8 Waterfront Cityscape of Helsingborg, Sweden

Helsingborg was founded in 1085 and controlled by Demark until 1658 when it was ceded to Sweden. It is now their fourth largest city with a population of about 100,000 people. Located in the country’s southwest corner along the Øresund waterfront, it is a delightful blend of historic landmarks and narrow cobblestone streets. It is also the home of international companies such as IKEA and Nicorette. No wonder it is called, “The Pearl of the Sound.”

Atlantgatan 1 252 25 Helsingborg, Sweden
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9 Landmarks along Norra Hamngatan in Gothenburg, Sweden

This kayaker on the Great Harbor Canal is staring at the Christinae Kyrka clock tower. When finished in 1748, it was named in honor of Queen Christina. She was Sweden’s queen from 1632 until 1654. The yellow building on the right is the German Church’s sanctuary. The neighboring building on the left along Norra Hamngatan or North Harbour Street was built in 1753. The Sahlgrenska House was the private residence of Brigitta Sahlgren. She owned a huge sugary refinery and shipping business.

Tyska bron 411 14 Göteborg, Sweden
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10 View of Akershus Fortress from Oslo Fjord in Oslo, Norway

Akershus Fortress was built along the coastline of the Oslo Fjord around 1299 as a defense against sea and land invasions. Akershus Festning successfully repelled at least six attacks by Swedish, Danish and Scottish soldiers from 1308 through the 16th century. The citadel was only surrendered in 1940 when Germany invaded Norway during WWII. The Germans used the big building on the right, called the Akershus National Penitentiary, as a military prison. Further on the right is the Crown Prince’s Powder Magazine Tower (circa 1755). It was used by the Nazis as death row for Norwegian Resistance fighters. The castle was liberated in 1945. Akershus Fortress is surrounded by Crown Prince’s Bastion, a stone wall that was finished circa 1618.

Akershus Castle Church 0150 Oslo, Norway
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11 Cannon at Christiansholm Fortress in Kristiansand, Norway

While Christian IV was the King of Denmark and Norway from 1588 until 1648, he commissioned the Christiansholm Fortress. It remained a military post until 1872. This original bronze cannon is one of eight that once protected the citadel. The stone walls of the circular tower are 16 feet thick. Today, this is a major tourist attraction, a small gallery and special event facility.

Østre Strandgate 52B, 4610 Kristiansand, Norway
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12 Waterfall Cascading Down Mountain at Geirangerfjord near Geiranger, Norway

A delightful experience when entering Geiranger by ship is cruising through a Norwegian fjord. The Geirangerfjord is so spectacular it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This grand entrance to the town is 9.3 miles long. It is best toured in the early spring when enormous waterfalls cascade down the side of the snowcapped Åkerneset mountain.

Geirangerfjord, Stranda Municipality, Norway
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13 Introduction to Jökulsárlón in South Iceland

No Icelandic vacation is complete without visiting Jökulsárlón. The lagoon formed in the early 1930s as the melting of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier began to accelerate. The lake has grown to almost ten square miles and is the country’s deepest at about 800 feet. More important than measurements is Jökulsárlón’s magical beauty. Sparkling icebergs in unique shapes and colors are suspended in aquamarine water. These 1,000 year old ice shards are a blend of whites with blue crystals resembling jewels. The black stripes are ash bearing witness to a millennium of volcanic activity.

Jökulsárlón, Iceland
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14 Tower Bridge in London, England

The Romans were the first to construct a bridge crossing the River Thames during the 1st century. Two former spans were called the London Bridge. The medieval version was constructed in 1209. The second was finished in 1831. When it came time for a replacement, it was sold to Robert McCulloch in 1968 and reassembled in Arizona. The iconic Tower Bridge was constructed downstream in 1894. The length is 801 feet and the twin towers are 213 feet tall. Two center bascules can be raised in five minutes to allow the passage of tall ships. In the elevated walkway and beneath the facade of Portland stone and Cornish granite are 11,000 tons of steel.

3 More London Riverside, London SE1 2RE, UK
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15 Stone Amphitheater at Cliffs of Moher near Liscannor, Ireland

You are immediately impressed at your first glimpse of the Cliffs of Moher. As you walk south along the edge, the views get more incredible. Nature spent 300 million years dating back to the Carboniferous Period carving this amphitheater of Namurian shale and sandstone. At the base is a network of water caves. No wonder this has been the location of numerous movies such as “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “The Princess Bride.”

Ballard Rd Lislorkan North, Co. Clare, Ireland
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16 Five Windmills in Kinderdijk, Netherlands

Children Dike is the Dutch translation for Kinderdijk, Netherlands where 19 polder windmills were built beginning in 1740. This is also where the “Cat and the Cradle” legend originated when a cat saved a baby from drowning during a 1421 flood. Today, the function of these picturesque landmarks has been replaced by 2,000 wind turbines scattered across Holland.

Blokweerschekade 5, 2954 Alblasserdam, Netherlands
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17 Guildhalls on Northeast of Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium

The square called Grand Place became the hub for Brussels’ merchants about ten centuries ago but was completely destroyed by the French in 1695. From the ashes, the local merchants (called guilds) each designed their adjoining buildings. In this photo (left to right), they are the King’s House annex (Chambrette de l’Amman), the Pigeon (painters), Golden Galleon or Sloop (tailors), and the Angel (Abby of Forest). On top in the middle is a statue of Bishop St. Boniface.

Grand Place 25, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
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18 Nymph of Seine at Pont Alexandre III and Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

The beautiful connection over the Seine between the Grand and Petit Palais and the Hôtel des Invalides is an Art Nouveau bridge called Pont Alexandre III. It was built in time for the 1900 World Exposition and celebrates the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892. The statue that encircles the Eiffel Tower is one of two copper nymphs of Seine in a ship that symbolizes France.

Pont Alexandre III, 75008 Paris, France
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19 Cruz Fort on Tamariz Beach in Estoril, Portugal

The full name of this fortress along Tamariz Beach is the Fort of Santo António da Cruz. It was created as a residence in the late 19th century by a wealthy man named João Martins de Barra. Apparently he built it for his terminally ill daughter but I am sure he also loved the wonderful view of the Atlantic Ocean.

R. Olivença 13, 2765-262 Estoril, Portugal
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20 Welcome to Casco Antiguo in Seville, Spain

Most of the city’s major landmarks are in Casco Antiguo, the Ancient District of Seville. Many daytrippers do not get beyond two city squares where three UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located. This is Plaza del Triunfo. Behind the horse-drawn carriage is La Giralda. This famous bell tower is attached to the Seville Cathedral seen on the left. On the other side of the plaza is the General Archive of the Indies. Behind this view is Plaza del Patio de Banderas where you will enter the Alcázar.

Plaza del Triunfo, Seville, Spain
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21 Mother Barbary Macaque Monkey Nursing Infant at Rock of Gibraltar, Gibraltar

This mother nursing her baby are among the last three hundred Barbary macaque monkeys living wild in Europe on the Rock of Gibraltar. Located at the mouth of the Mediterranean, Gibraltar is a 2.6 mile British Overseas Territory under the United Kingdom’s sovereignty. The five troops of monkeys living there are fun to watch. The younger ones resemble hyperactive children on a playground.

Apes’ Den, Old Queen's Rd, Gibraltar GX11 1AA, Gibraltar
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22 Unique Historical Architecture in Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is celebrated for its unique historical architecture. Antoni Gaudí is considered the genius of Catalan Modernism. You will see several of his creative buildings in the Barcelona Two gallery. On the left is the Nativity Façade of Sagrada Família. Construction of this famous minor basilica began in 1882. It is scheduled for completion in 2026. In this gallery you will enjoy Neo-Classical government buildings, former Olympic stadiums, a 17th century castle, a Gothic cathedral plus the remnants of a Roman wall from the 1st century BC. An example of what is ahead is the Neo-Mudéjar style of the Arc de Triomf with its red brick columns and angel sculptures.

Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
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23 Bay of Angels Coastline in Nice, France

This gorgeous view of the Mediterranean coast in Nice epitomizes the French Riviera’s beauty. It is called Baie des Anges or Bay of Angels. I assumed it derived its name from the angelic atmosphere offered by the warm sunshine, the beaches and the promenades. However, the origin comes from the squatina angelus, a shark that has two fins shaped like angel wings. But don’t worry … it has not been seen in these waters since the 19th century.

11 Quai Rauba Capeu, 06300 Nice, France
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24 Saint Nicholas Cathedral Front Façade in Monte Carlo, Monaco

The first Saint Nicholas church to be built on “The Rock” was in 1252. It was replaced by the Cathédrale de Monaco in 1875. It is called Saint Nicholas Cathedral. Officially, the name of this Roman Catholic church is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. A secondary patron saint is Saint Benoît. Benedict of Nursia lived in the 6th century and is also a patron saint of Europe and students. Their statues can be seen on either side of the cathedral’s entrance.

1A Rue Colonel Bellando de Castro 98000 Monaco
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25 Pisa Cathedral and Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy

The centerpiece of the Piazza del Duomo or Cathedral Square is the medieval Pisa Cathedral. Construction on Italy’s first Pisan Romanesque church began in 1063. The spectacular marble façade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta features blind arcades, arches, columns, three bronze doors and a dome. Wow, it is beautiful! Did you also notice the iconic leaning bell tower behind it?

Piazza del Duomo 1, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy
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26 Skyline View of Duomo from Piazzale Michelangiolo in Florence, Italy

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Cathedral of Florence, is enormous. The Duomo is 526 feet long and the dome is 375 feet tall. There is only one place where you can fully appreciate its grandeur. That viewpoint is at Piazzale Michelangiolo, also known as Michelangelo Square.

Piazzale Michelangelo, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
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27 Altare della Patria Frontal View in Rome, Italy

The Altare della Patria or Altar of the Fatherland monument celebrates the military successes of Victor Emmanuel II during the Wars of Italian Unification. Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II is enormous, almost the size of four football fields. Designed in a Neoclassical style by Giuseppe Sacconi, it was inaugurated in 1911 on the 50th anniversary of the Kingdom of Italy. However, the countless statues and reliefs carved into its marble façade were not finished until 1935. Inside of the country’s largest memorial is a museum dedicated to the Italian Unification. It is called Museo Centrale del Risorgimento.

Piazza Venezia 00186 Roma RM, Italy
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28 Marina Gate, the Main Entrance to Pompeii, Italy

Porta Marina means Sea Gateway. This is the main entrance into Pompeii. The ancient Italian town was buried during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. A visit to the ruins is a walk through Roman life from over 1,900 years ago. You will see ruts in the cobblestone streets from the chariots, the remnants of gorgeous frescos, the iconic Forum and plaster molds of citizens who died during the rain of pumice and ash.

Via Villa dei Misteri, 3, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy
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29 Astronomical Clock in Messina, Italy

The Cathedral of Messina’s tower is 197 feet tall. The original was constructed in the 16th century and rebuilt after an earthquake. Each day at noon, mechanical bronze figures on the front of the tower portray the city’s historical events during a fifteen minute performance. When this astronomical clock by the Strasbourg Firm of Ungerer was added in 1933, it became the world’s largest. This side facing the basilica’s entrance features an angel who points to the day, month, year and moon phases.

Piazza Duomo, 14, 98122 Messina ME, Italy
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30 Origin of the City of Valletta, Malta

In 1566, the Knights of Saint John decided to build a city along the Sceberras Peninsula. It was designed by Francesco Laparelli and named after Grandmaster Jean Parisot de Valette, the hero of the Great Siege of Malta. He personally laid the first stone of the city named after him. The Knights Hospitallers first task was to build enormous defensive walls, some of which reached 330 feet high above the Grand Harbour where this photo was taken. The arches on the left are part of the Lower Barrakka Garden. The dome-shaped monument with ten columns is the Siege Bell Memorial, a tribute to local residents killed during WWII. Between them is Church of St. Nicholas’ dome.

Xatt Il-Barriera, Valletta, Malta
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31 Doge’s Palace Western Façade in Venice, Italy

The Doges of Venice were the political and military leaders of the republic for 1,100 years from 697 until 1797. This opulent Venetian Gothic palace was started in 1340 to be the home for the doge plus his governmental council and law courts. The Palazzo Ducale was not finished until 1442. If you look closely above the exquisite arcades and loggia, you will see the sculpture of Doge Francesco Foscari kneeling below the winged lion of Saint Mark.

Piazza San Marco, 1, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
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32 High Altar Inside the Cathedral of Saint Domnius in Split, Croatia

The Katedrala Svetog Duje’s high altar is spectacular. Built in 1767 by Giovanni Morlaiter, it is crowned by a semi-dome with paintings by Matej Pončun. On either side are two large gilded angels suspending a regulatory. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Domnius. He was the Bishop of Salona when he was beheaded at the command of Diocletian in 304 AD. Ironically, the relics of Split’s patron saint are now in the mausoleum built in 305 AD for the Roman emperor who ordered his death. Conversely, Diocletian’s remains have disappeared.

Ul. Kraj Svetog Duje 5, 21000, Split, Croatia
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33 View of Old Town from Luka Korčulanska Bay in Korčula, Croatia

A delightful respite from exploring Korčula is to walk outside of the walls on the western quay and then on a street called Put Svetog Nikole. It runs along the shoreline of Luka Korčulanska Bay. You will be rewarded with this cityscape view of Old Town and the prominent landmarks shown here: the Towers of the Governors and St. Mark’s Cathedral bell tower.

Put Svetog Nikole 2, Korčula, Croatia
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34 Outer Ploče Gate at Revelin Fortress in Dubrovnik, Croatia

This white, mid-15th century bridge designed by Paskoje Miličević leads from land and over a ditch to the Outer Ploče Gate. You must pass through two more gates before entering Dubrovnik. On the right is the massive Revelin Fortress. This citadel was finished in 1549 in response to a potential attack by the Venetians. A more lethal attacker was the plague. So for centuries the city had a strict policy that all visiting merchants and seamen must be quarantined for 40 days. The only remaining lazaretto or detention building from 1642 can be seen a few steps before crossing this bridge.

Ul. Vrata od Ploča, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia
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35 Bay of Kotor in Montenegro

Montenegro, whose name means Black Mountain, is landlocked except for a stretch along the Adriatic coast. Near Croatia’s southern border is the mouth of Boka Kotorska. The 17 mile long Bay of Kotor was formed by receding glaciers from the Dinaric Alps. Some people refer to Boka as a fjord but it is actually a river canyon. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has four gulfs. Three of them – Tivat, Risan and Kotor – are surrounded by limestone mountains: Orjen and Lovćen. Nestled along its shores are serene towns. They are a joy to explore. This travel guide shows the highlights from Dobrota, Perast, Tivat and Budva.

Put I Bokeljske Brigade Dobrota, Montenegro
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36 Old Fortress and New Fortress in Corfu, Greece

Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea and also the name of its largest city. The Old Fortress in the center dates back to the 6th century during the Byzantine Period when this town was called Koryfo (means summit) or Corcyra in Latin. The early fortification was expanded during the 12th century, significantly replaced during the Republic of Venice’s rule from 1386 – 1797 and then extensively modified by the British. The Venetians also constructed the New Fortress on the left during the mid-16th century. Most of what is seen today was constructed while Corfu was a protectorate of the United Kingdom from 1815 until 1864. Both fortifications are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This view from the Bay of Garitsa makes it easy to see why the Greek’s call this Kastropolis or Castle City.

Ikoumenikou Patriarchou Athinagora, Kerkira 491 00, Greece
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37 Close Up of Loggerhead Sea Turtle in Argostoli, Greece

Loggerhead sea turtles regularly breed in the Koutavos Lagoon nature reserve in Argostoli, Greece during the spring and summer months. These magnificent marine creatures typically weigh more than 300 pounds and can live up to 65 years. Their head and shells glow with a rainbow of colors as they swim in the sapphire waters surrounding the Ionian Islands.

Ioannou Metaxa & Kerkiras, Argostoli 281 00, Greece
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38 The Parthenon Temple on the Athenian Acropolis in Athens, Greece

This is the world’s most famous Doric temple. The Parthenon was dedicated to the goddess Athena when it was built on a citadel overlooking Athens, Greece. It is one of several archaeological ruins at the Acropolis of Athens. Others include temples and sanctuaries plus two theaters and remnants of other structures. Most of these buildings were constructed during the 5th century BC.

The Parthenon Temple, Zeus' Triangle, Athina 105 58, Greece
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39 Petros the Pelican in Mykonos, Greece

In 1954, a fisherman found an injured great white pelican and nursed him back to health. For over 30 years, Petros the Pelican was a celebrity and the official mascot of Mykonos Island. After he was killed by a car in 1985, his legacy lived on as three other pelicans became permanent residents. Jackie Kennedy-Onassis donated Irene. Another wounded bird is called Nikola. The Hamburg Zoo gifted this one who carries on the name Petros.

Mykonos Waterfront, Mikonos 846 00, Greece
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40 Library of Celsus Ruins in Ephesus, Turkey

Ephesus was a Greek city of half a million people dating back to 10 B.C. This archeological gem is located on Turkey’s western coast. Although only a small portion has been excavated, it is an amazing collection of Greek and Roman ruins. The site includes temples, a theater and a basilica. The most impressive is the two-story, 52 foot façade of the Library of Celsus. It once contained over 12,000 scrolls. This magnificent structure was built as a tomb in 117 A.D.

Celsus Library Acarlar Mahallesi, 35920 Selçuk/İzmir, Turkey
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41 Hagia Sophia at Sunset in Istanbul, Turkey

Two previous churches were built on the site of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. They were destroyed in 404 and 532 AD. The current masterpiece has a 185 foot dome. Construction required 10,000 workers and materials from quarries in Turkey, Syria, Egypt and Ephesus. When it was finished in 537, it was the world’s largest cathedral. 900 years later, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople and converted the Byzantine cathedral into an Islamic mosque. In 1934, Hagia Sophia became a museum. Touring this landmark is an incredible excursion.

Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Ayasofya Meydanı, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
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42 Dome of the Rock in Moonlight on Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel

The Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel is of historical and religious significance to Muslims, Christians and Jews. Built on the Temple Mount in 691 AD, its dome is covered by an aluminum bronze alloy with gold. The greatest significance is inside. The Foundation Stone (the Rock) represents the spiritual joining of Heaven and Earth. This famous landmark is maintained by the Jordanians.

Dome of the Rock, Old City, Jerusalem
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43 Woman Entering Victoria & Albert Museum in Mumbai, India

Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is wall-to-wall people with a population of over 20 million. The atmosphere is crowded and dizzying. But it can also be elegant and beautiful. This woman is wearing an orange, satin saree or sari, which is an unstitched cloth that is draped over the body. She is entering the Victoria & Albert Museum which is also called the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum. It was built in 1872.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Byculla, Mumbai 400027, India
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44 Close Up of Two Yakshas at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Yakshas are spiritual beings from Hindu literature. They live in subterranean earth and are protectors of treasures. Some people in India consider them to be deities. They evolved in Thailand to be guardians of gates, temples and royal belongings. They look fierce like a demon. However, in addition to being good warriors, yakshas are considered to be benevolent. This pair is at the base of a golden chedi at the Grand Palace.

Na Phra Lan Rd, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
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45 Cycling Past the Wheel of Perth at Barrack Square in Perth, Australia

The exciting, modern city of Perth is in western Australia. Its tall, glass skyscrapers are a backdrop to vineyards, Swan River cruises, welcoming parks and Indian Ocean beaches. A giant Ferris wheel called the Wheel of Perth was a prominent feature of Barrack Square and Perth’s skyline. It closed in 2010. A smaller version was built in Fremantle a year later.

Barrack Square, Perth WA 6000, Australia
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46 Southbank and Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia

Southbank is a small neighborhood across the Yarra River from Melbourne’s Central Business District. Despite its .7 square mile size, this former warehouse and wharf precinct has experienced extraordinary development in the last few decades. The revitalization began in the 1980s with the addition of theaters and performing arts venues known as the Arts Centre Melbourne. In the 1990s, the new Southbank Promenade became the impetus for developing waterfront apartments. At the same time, an enormous convention and exhibition center plus the Crown Entertainment Complex were built. During the first decade of the 21st century, office buildings were added and so was Melbourne’s tallest skyscraper. The residential Eureka Tower defines the skyline at 975 feet with 91 floors.

Princes Bridge, St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC, 3004 Australia
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47 Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia

The city’s architectural symbol is the Sydney Opera House located on Bennelong Point and jetting into the Sydney Harbour. The unique concert hall features concrete shells covered by over a million tiles with a chevron pattern sitting on top of a platform of pink granite. Jørn Utzon won the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize for his design. Since the $102 million facility opened in 1973, it has hosted countless plays, ballets and musical performances. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also home to the Sydney Theatre Company, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Opera Australia.

Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
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48 Introduction to Milford Sound at Fiordland, New Zealand

The masterpiece of Fiordland National Park – the country’s largest park – is Milford Sound. Piopiotahi (Māori name) is the northernmost of the fjords along the southwestern coast of New Zealand. This incredible 9.9 mile inlet of the Tasman Sea is defined by sheer summits like Mount Kimberley (The Lion) at 4,271 feet on the left, the snow-capped Mills Peak at 5,987 feet and the 3,966 foot Cascade Peak on the right. Savor the pristine scenery above water during a sightseeing cruise. Marvel at the waterfalls. Enjoy seeing dolphins, penguins, fur seals and whales in the water. And stop at Harrison Cove (center) to view marine life at 32 feet below the surface at the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory. You will soon understand why Milford Sound is rated among the top destinations not only in New Zealand but also the world.

Milford Sound, Southland 9691, New Zealand
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49 Guatma Buddha in Shrine of Xá Lợi Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

This gold-coated statue in the shrine of Xá Lợi Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is Siddhārtha Gautama. He is considered to be the Supreme Buddha who taught in the Himalayan foothills until his death around 400 BC. The Buddha is depicted in meditation atop a lotus blossom. In 1963, under orders of the South Vietnamese president, the pagoda was viciously attacked as part of a Buddhist persecution that led to hundreds of deaths and the jailing of 1,000 monks.

89b Bà Huyện Thanh Quan phường 7, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
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50 Sunrise over Isles and Fishing Boats in Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

In the northern part of the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam is Ha Long Bay. This geological marvel is one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Legend declares dragons created the 1,600 limestone isles. From afar they look like the backbone scales of a giant, swimming sea creature. Watching the sun rise on this mystical place was breathtaking, particularly as the local fishermen embrace the wind and waves of a new day.

Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
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51 Hall of Supreme Harmony at Forbidden City in Beijing, China

The Hall of Supreme Harmony stands an impressive 114 feet, the tallest building during the Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing (1644 – 1912) dynasties. Perched atop a three-tiered marble terrace enhances its majestic presence as the centerpiece of the Outer Court. Originally called Fengtian Palace, this was one of the first structures built at the Forbidden City in 1406. The Hall of Supreme Harmony has been rebuilt several times, the last in 1695 during the reign of Kangxi Emperor (1661 – 1722). It remains the largest wooden structure in China. Accenting Taihe dian are 18 large bronze incense burners (dings). In China, incense is called xiang. Only the most fragrant and expensive foreign incense would please the emperors.

Meridian Gate, Dongcheng Qu, Donghuamen Rd, Beijing Shi, China, 100006
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52 Yongyeon Pond in Jeju City, South Korea

When you muster up the courage to look down while crossing Yongyeon Bridge, you will be treated with the picturesque serenity of Yongyeon Pond. According to legend, this deep, still basin was formed when rainwater fell from a dragon while flying to heaven. Hence its name: Dragon Pond. Suddenly, your eyes will catch a motion. Then a splash. Soon other flying fish will break the surface, spin, and dive back. Delightful! If your camera is ready but your courage is not, then you can savor this view from a red pavilion perched at the upper edge of the ravine.

Yongyeon Pond, Cheju, Jeju-do, South Korea
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53 A-bomb Dome at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan

At 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, a squadron of B-29 aircraft flew over Hiroshima and the Enola Gay released “Little Boy,” the world’s first atomic bomb. Energy equivalent to 16 kilotons of TNT detonated 1,900 feet above the city, resulting in 4.4 miles of destruction and fire. 30% of the population were instantly killed. The A-Bomb Dome is the ruins of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall which opened in 1915. The hollow shell was preserved in remembrance of the horror. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is across the river from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

1 Chome-10 Ōtemachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0051, Japan
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54 Great Torii at Miyajima, Japan

At the mouth of an inlet at Miyajima is the famous Great Torii, the floating gate to Itsukushima Shrine. The original torii was built in 1168. The current version – number eight – dates from 1875. The free-standing, vermillion O-Torii Gate is 55 feet tall, weighs 60 tons and is constructed from cedar and camphor. Some of these trees are over 500 years old. At low tide, you can walk out to admire this national treasure but the exposed seabed is muddy. At high tide, boat rides are available to sail around the six pillars.

Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 739-0588, Japan
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55 Golden Pavilion Side View at Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto, Japan

The Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-ji represents different architectural styles: shinden on the first floor, samurai, and zen on the third level. The temple’s gold leaf protected with lacquer is radiant in the sunshine. Inside are Buddha relics qualifying it as a shariden. The original of this magnificent structure was destroyed by arson in 1950 at the hands of Hayashi Yoken, a mentally ill monk. This replica was built in 1955. The Golden Pavilion is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1 Kinkakuji-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, Japan
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56 History of Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan

In the late 12th century, warrior Edo Shigetsugu was the first to build a fortification on the current Imperial Palace grounds. In 1457, the last of the Edo clan surrendered to Ōta Dōkan, a Japanese samurai (military noble). He then built the huge Edo Castle (Edo-jo) encircled by a system of moats. One of the few remnants of his construction is pictured on the left along Hamaguri Moat overlooking Kikyo-mon Gate. On the right is a watchtower (keep) named Tatsumi-yagura. During the Edo Period (1603 – 1867), Tukugawa shoguns occupied the castle while the surrounding city of Edo became the world’s largest. In 1868, when Meiji the Great became emperor, he renamed the city Tokyo (meaning eastern capital) and converted Edo Castle into the Imperial Palace.

1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 100-0001, Japan
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